Holiday Lights Tips
Holiday excitement this time of year sends many Texans into a flurry of decorating their homes, schools, and offices. The star of most holiday displays is the light show, with strings, ropes, nets, and icicles festooning your office cube, front door, landscape, or your whole house! NASA satellites have recorded nighttime light from major US cities shining 20 to 50 percent brighter around Christmas and New Year’s Day. Beautiful as they are, these lights can strain your energy bill over the course of a season. They also create opportunities to both add to and prevent landfill waste. Consider several options to Take Care of Texas this holiday season.
Many lighting formats, including string lights, nets, ropes, icicles, and lights of various sizes, are available in an LED option. LED lights typically use considerably less energy and last longer than incandescent lights. Look for Energy Star-certified lights, which have been tested to ensure that they use 75% less energy than incandescent bulbs, and even come with a warranty of three years or more. The increased efficiency and durability will save you money, use less energy, and create less waste.
Set a Timer
Simply plugging your lights in and leaving them on all night wastes energy. When installing your lights and decorations, save energy and money by connecting them to a simple, inexpensive timer to ensure that the lights will shine and beautify your home or office only when people are most likely to enjoy them.
Repair the Repairable
Electronic holiday decorations often take a beating from the elements and tend to come out of storage mysteriously tangled and damaged. Keep them out of landfills with a little DIY repair! If your string of lights is missing a light or two, individual replacement bulbs are easy to find and inexpensive. Yard inflatables that leak air and don’t dance with the same passion that they once did can be repaired by sewing or patched with transparent duct tape.
Recycle the Unsalvageable
If you have curb-side recycling, you should not “wishcycle” by putting string lights in the bin, as this only contaminates the stream. Instead, start by contacting your local municipal waste management program and ask for instructions. Some cities host bulk holiday light collection events.
If a local collection event is not scheduled in your area, search for “string lights” on the Earth 911 search tool for mail-in programs that will accept your old string lights for recycling.